Allan Armstrong (acting convenor of RSA-Scotland) attended the RSA meeting in Wakefield on 23rd July. Steve Freeman (RSA-London) has written the following report of this meeting.
REPORT OF REPUBLICAN SOCIALIST ALLIANCE MEETING
IN THE RED SHED IN WAKEFIELD, 23rd JULY
The meeting had a thorough discussion on future perspectives for republican socialism in the light of the Brexit vote. It began with a general discussion about the meaning a consequences of the Brexit vote. In terms of the voting all three options of remain, leave and abstain were reflected in the discussion. There was general agreement that this was significant event with revolutionary implications, not least because of the situation in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
After discussion it was agreed to amend the RSA constitution clause 5(ii) which says “The RSA aims to develop activity and discussion aimed at:” and section “ii) Discussing the idea of a republican socialist party”.
It was agreed unanimously to amend this clause to say “ii) Promoting the idea of a republican socialist party” In discussion it was agreed to add the descriptor – “party of democratic revolution” to this clause.
The Brexit vote meant that the RSA had to go further. The argument was made that a republican party was the means of winning or achieving a republic and now was the time to make this case more strongly. This did not mean deciding what way such a party might arise nor of setting this slogan against all existing parties. Such a party might come from within Rise, Left Unity, the Labour Party or none of these.
Future campaigning work for republican socialists
A number of items were raised which might be important over the next period. First there would be consequences of Brexit in defending the rights of working class people and the possibility of a recession impacting on austerity. The question of opposing racism and defending free movement of people were discussed. In both Edinburgh and London there had been protest demonstrations involving EU citizens and disaffected remain young people.
Nobody called for a ‘rerun’ of the referendum but it was agreed we should raise the issue of 16-18 year olds and EU citizens not having a right to vote in all UK elections and referendum. The outcome of the referendum was biased by the exclusion by the Tories of both these groups. In addition both Scotland and Northern Ireland had a significant position having voted to remain in. This created a big problem for the Tory government. If there is another Scottish referendum we had to do much better in England in building a solidarity movement.
Should we support a referendum on any proposed Exit Agreement? There was no agreement on this and it agreed discussion on this should continue.
Assemblies for Democracy
Brexit had raised expectations over the restoration of “sovereignty” and it is important work RSA supporters had done in the A4D, campaigning for a citizen led constitution. RSA supporters have been active in this campaign. How can our politics help to move this campaign forward?
Paul reported on the work this campaign had done and agreed to circulate the call for a new constitution published recently in the Guardian.
It was recognised an ongoing debate in A4D between Process and Programme. The question is whether A4D should have any policies on the constitution or whether it should merely facilitate other people coming up with their own ideas and not try to influence the process.
A4D has adopted one principle on “sovereignty of the people”. This is a republican principle although A4D does not identify itself as promoting a republican constitution. Are there other republican principles we should seek to get adopted? Three points were raised
- “All representatives should be elected, accountable and subject to recall”
- “Self determination for nations” – an application of the “sovereignty of the people” – the right of a given nation/people to call a referendum on separation”.
- “Abolition of all undemocratic institutions and laws” This includes opposing all the Acts of Union. This could mean separation or federalism.
A4D Geographical structures
In recognising the national dimension in the United Kingdom should we call for national A4Ds – i.e. A4D (England) A4D (Scotland), A4D (Wales) and A4D (Ireland). We should recognise A4D at regional and local levels so in theory A4D (North West England).
Campaigning for a European republican socialist party
There was a good discussion on the idea of promoting a European republican socialist party. It was generally agreed we should work for this around the slogans the RSA adopted for the referendum. These included a European democratic revolution, European federal republic, secular and social, the right to self determination [The slogan of a United states of Europe was not discussed].
The following resolution was adopted:
- This RSA meeting recognises that as an alliance and discussion forum, it is not our purpose to impose policies on the RSA. RSA national meetings enable discussion and facilitate activity amongst those members who wish to act together, as we did during the EU referendum.
- Taking account of the policy passed at the least RSA meeting concerning a European democratic revolution and European federal republic etc, this meeting agrees that those RSA members who are exploring setting up a campaign for a European republican socialist party can use RSA discussion lists to promote this idea and discussion around it.
- This meeting agrees to encourage RSA members to support such a campaign.
In addition it was agreed that we should adopt the descriptor – a European republican socialist party, the party of European democratic revolution.
It was agreed that we would work to launch this campaign in the autumn at a meeting in Scotland. Allan said he would seek support from those on the RSA list in Scotland to organise a meeting for comrades throughout these islands to take forward the project of advancing the European Democratic Revolution. He suggested October for this.